To say PPC is a bit of a marmite topic is something of an understatement. Listen to some folks and they’ll convince you that it’s a strategy that literally prints money for their business. Talk to others, and they’ll tell you it’s expensive and a complete waste of time and money. So, who’s right?
For those who enjoy success with PPC, it can be a powerful weapon in their digital marketing arsenal. The statistics show that businesses are making around £3 for every £1.60 they spend on PPC, which is a pretty impressive ROI in anyone’s book. Despite last year’s changes to the search results pages (SERPs), around 80 per cent of the clicks on the page go to listings above the 4th organic listing, including the sponsored listings at the top. In fact, one in ten clicks will go to the top sponsored ad itself.
However, some businesses are not so lucky. With competition increasing and the complexity of PPC tougher than ever, it can present something of a money pit for novice marketers and businesses with small digital marketing budgets. To help you decide if PPC is a good investment for your business in 2017, we’re going to weigh up some of the pros and cons of this love-it or hate-it marketing strategy.
The advantages of PPC
Your digital budget has already got to cover content creation, social media, SEO and goodness knows what else. Is there really enough benefit to PPC advertising to really consider it as part of your strategy? Decide for yourself:
- Immediate traffic: There’s no waiting around when it comes to PPC. You don’t need to wait for Google to index and rank you, as you do with SEO work. You don’t need to wait for your email newsletter to be sent. You can start today and start getting more traffic right now.
- A/B testing: Because PPC is highly controllable on a day to day basis, you can test the water for new product keywords and see what gets the best results from your audience. You can even use it to test the response to different landing pages, as well as different designs of your PPC ad itself.
- Easy budgeting: You won’t waste all your digital marketing budget in one big slump of bad advertising. You can set a daily budget, or a maximum total budget, and after that the ad will be removed. This helps you keep a lid on costs while still potentially reaching a lot of people.
- Measurable results: There’s a lot of data available from a PPC campaign, which will help you decide quickly if something is working or not. You can access your data on a daily basis through AdWords, including daily budget, clicks, impressions, click through rate (CTR) and the total cost of the ad. This helps you make rapid changes that will stop you losing money if things aren’t working as they should.
- Authority: Appearing more often on the SERPs pages for your keywords, as well as increasing the number of clicks you’ll be receiving, will see your website’s perceived SEO exponentially increased. This will help with future SEO and should raise your SEO metrics significantly.
- Good for local search: Your PPC marketing can target only customers in your local area. This is great for sticks-and-bricks businesses, as it means you can just show your ad to people who live or are searching locally, so you’re not wasting your money advertising your cake decorating business in Portsmouth to someone who lives in Yorkshire.
Limitations of PPC
Not everything in PPC is good for everyone. Here are some of the most commonly conceived limitations of this type of digital marketing, to help you gain a balanced overview of this strategy.
- Expensive: Let’s not beat about the bush here; PPC advertising can be expensive. Thankfully you only actually pay for the number of clicks you receive. This is different to traditional advertising, where you will pay a fee whether people respond to your ad or not, so in some ways it’s a better way of doing things. However, if you are competing for a popular keyword, you could be paying as much as $50 / £40 per click. And that could potentially be money down the drain, because…
- Traffic is not the same as sales: No, it is not. As much as lots of traffic to your website is lovely, and will help infinitely with your SEO, it’s not much good to you as a business if nobody is stopping to buy something. PPC can sometimes bring too much random traffic, as it’s impossible to target your audience apart from through the keywords you’ve chosen. This could result in a lot of irrelevant traffic landing on your pages, which is going to cost you your marketing budget without actually increasing revenue.
- Click fraud exists: Not heard of it? Well, if you’re thinking about going into PPC, you should be aware of click fraud. This is a process which can use people, software or hacked computers to click paid advertisements in an effort to ruin their competitors campaign. It’s unlikely to happen to you if you’re a small business, but it’s worth being aware of the concept, and of the guidelines Google has published relating to it.
- It takes time and effort: One of the more well hidden costs of PPC advertising is the time and effort you’re going to need to invest in learning about your audience, about PPC advertising and all the best practices you’re going to need. Time needs to be invested in keyword research and audience research, not to mention potentially creating new landing pages for the sponsored ads, and reviewing the data from the results so you can hone your campaign.
- Steep learning curve: The processes and practices surrounding PPC can be somewhat intimidating. Unless you know what you’re looking at, trying to interpret the data from your campaigns can feel like trying to decipher a secret code. Involving a professional digital marketing company can be a great way to really maximise your potential in this field, and will let you focus your own time and efforts on running your business.
PPC is not right for every business, so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons and make your own decision. Bear in mind it’s not all about Google AdWords, as you’ve not got lots of other players and channels which can be more affordable and effective when it comes to PPC. Bing ads, Facebook and Yahoo, to name just a few, might work better for your business if you’re just getting started, so take stock of all the options available and consider where your audience hang out to get the best results from your campaign.